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Movie Stars and McCarthy Salads: The Beverly Hills Hotel Turns 100
Opened by Hollywood hotelier Margaret Anderson in 1912, the Beverly Hills Hotel brought wealth, glamour, and real estate cachet to what was then an area with six homes and fields of lima beans. Robert S. Anderson, Margaret’s great-grandson and author of The Beverly Hills Hotel: The First 100 Years, shares photos and stories from the local legend’s past as it celebrates its centennial.
This 1912 photo shows the hotel before the bungalows were added. According to Anderson, an acre of land near the hotel was reserved so that families visiting for a season could plant crops during their stay.
Anderson’s grandfather gave this vintage car to his wife, who often drove it to the hotel. To Anderson’s knowledge, his grandparents were the first couple to marry at the hotel, which they did in 1914.
This early promotional poster refers to the hotel as the city’s “one and only.” “My grandmother had it in her contract that no other hotel could be built in Beverly Hills without her consent.” Fifteen years after the Beverly Hills Hotel opened, construction began on the Beverly Wilshire.
This photograph, part of a postcard collection issued by Anderson, shows the west side of the hotel’s driveway. “You can date the image by the palm trees,” he says. “They are the same ones that were planted in 1911.”
A Sailor-Made Man, the 1921 silent starring Harold Lloyd, is one of the few films shot on location at the hotel. “Lloyd was a big supporter of the city of Beverly Hills,” says Anderson. “His mother donated the fountain that sits at the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards. It cost $16,000.”
Hernando Courtright, who ran the hotel in the 1930s and ’40s, is responsible for the hotel’s pink facade and striped awnings. “It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge,” says Anderson about maintaining the hotel’s exterior. “You get to one end and have to start over.”
Marlene Dietrich was the first woman to wear pants inside the Polo Lounge, in 1939. The dress code dictated against it, but “you don’t tell this woman she can’t come in,” says Anderson. She was photographed in the restaurant in 1937.
“My great-grandmother’s motto was always ‘Guests are entitled to the best of everything regardless of cost.’” That meant guests could receive telephone calls by the hotel pool. “People would have themselves paged when they weren’t by the pool, just to bring their name to the attention of people who were,” says Anderson.
The hotel’s iconic sign (the famous font is trademarked) was installed in the 1950s and designed by architect Paul Williams, who also designed the curving feature of the Polo Lounge. “When I see it, I think ‘home,’ ” says Anderson.
Actress Audrey Hepburn was photographed at the hotel while attending a ball there in 1954.
Marilyn Monroe visited the hotel a lot—and “with a lot of different guests,” says Anderson. “Everybody knew about her and Joe DiMaggio. She would drink and have lunch in the Polo Lounge, but she’d hide out in her room, too.”
Actress Rita Hayworth lived in the neighborhood, and Anderson grew up playing with her daughter. “Rita would come to the hotel often for dinner,” he says. “She was always very gracious.”
Actress Faye Dunaway, a frequent hotel guest, was photographed by the pool the morning after she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1977.